Rescue vessels race to B.C.’s central coast as fuel barge breaks free from tug
The barge contains millions of litres of diesel and gasoline. It broke away from its tug in high winds Sunday afternoon
BELLA BELLA, B.C.—A fuel barge loaded with millions of litres of diesel has broken away from its tugboat on British Columbia’s central coast but first responders confirm the barge’s anchor has been dropped and the vessel is no longer drifting toward nearby islands.
A spokesman with the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Victoria says conditions have remained stable since the anchor was dropped late Sunday south of Goose Island in Queen Charlotte Sound.
The centre says the Jake Shearer, a 128-metre-long barge broke away from its tug in high winds at about 4 p.m. Sunday while carrying 3.5-million litres of diesel and nearly half-a-million litres of gasoline.
Tweets from the coast guard and B.C.’s Environment Ministry confirm that a coast guard vessel was on the scene through the night and a rescue tug is heading to the area about 45 kilometres west of Bella Bella, while more resources are on the way.
Heiltsuk First Nation spokeswoman Jess Housty posted messages on social media saying the Heiltsuk are responding with their best people and learned experience from last year’s sinking of the Nathan E. Stewart.
More than 110,000 litres of diesel spilled when that tug ran aground in the same region last October while pushing a barge similar to the Jake Shearer.